When you type intrapersonal your computer or device will attempt to tell you what you know and change it to interpersonal. I find this fascinating from a value standpoint. Do we value our relationship with others over our relationships to ourselves (or is autocorrect just the single most frustrating advancement on the planet)?
How does this relate to health and wellness you ask? Because our body is consistently trying to establish a relationship with us by sending us signals. Signals that we don't know or understand. Signals we often misread or completely ignore.
We develop a great sensitivity to social cues and the emotional triggers of our friends and loved ones but we seldom understand the language our body uses to speak to us. We mask aches and pains with pain relievers, we relieve indigestion with antacids, we seek chiropractors for misalignment, and practitioners to relieve stress (or the symptoms thereof). Not to say any of these is wrong. It is only to say that if we don't cue in to what are bodies are telling us with the pain or the indigestion; it's only if we don't address the movement patterns that misalign us, or the stresses and methods of coping that weigh on us, then we are missing an opportunity to read our body's language and take action to prevent their reoccurrence.
Recognize and Record
I consistently crave ice cream around 9pm. By itself this is a fairly benign statement. It does not associate the act of craving or the object of craving with any morality or label. It is simply a recognition. I encourage a method of Recognize & Record. Often just saying it aloud will do the job -creating the lightbulb or Aha! moment. However, it is a fascinating and gratifying practice to physically record our recognitions as we move along the path of discovering our equilibrium. It solidifies the recognitions within our minds and creates a metric of growth to reflect on our progress in the future.
How do you know you've had enough to eat? Intrapersonal intelligence. You have to pay attention to your body's cues. Ghrelin is the "hunger" hormone that initiates the cues that lead us to eat. Leptin is the satiation hormone which tells us when we've had enough. We often overreact to ghrelin and under react to leptin. Nothing but careful attention will train us to these hormonal cues.
How do you know if you have a food sensitivity? Intrapersonal intelligence. Of course you can have unmistakable symptoms like hives or anaphylaxis but what if we just go to bed with a stomach ache? Is it a virus? FODMAPs? Lactose intolerance? It can be hard to know right away but with focus we can tune in to the awareness of what makes our bodies happy.
How do you know your triggers and cravings? How do you override them? Intrapersonal intelligence. What is your body telling you when you crave the ice cream from the example above? Is your body hungry or acting from habit? Do you act on the craving? Asking yourself these probing questions and recording the answers is a monumental step toward learning your body's language.
How do you recognize the difference between muscle soreness and muscle damage? Intrapersonal intelligence. The difference between your body's reaction to striving for something and struggling to recover from injury are different. Tune in to what you feel before reaching for the acetaminophen.
The Immersion Program
I wish it were easy to deliver the answers to all of these questions. The unfortunate truth is that these answers can be different for each person. We are all so unique in our beliefs, our tastes, and our obstacles that only an immersion program into the language of our own personal bodies can reveal the answers. Which is why a careful study over time is helpful. The addition of an interpreter, a coach or trusted wellness-focused friend, will also greatly enhance your immersion program and bring about great insights and a quicker adaptation to intrapersonal intelligence.
I do want to caution that the immersion program can be overwhelming, even causing an unwelcome fixation on oneself or ones health. The value statement above should not be that relationships with others are more important or our relationships with ourselves takes precedence -- but a balanced approach in that our relationships do not overpower one another. Only in this way can we appropriately address the healthfulness of our bodies in relation to our habits and vices and those around us. For this reason it is recommended that we find an interpreter to check our understandings against the signals we recognize and record.
Like many wellness-based practices, intrapersonal intelligence takes a great deal of time to interpret and refine. And like many practices that develop mastery over time the rewards are well worth the investment. The potential in life-, money-, and sanity-saving benefits is priceless. Your body will thank you.